Habanero Consulting Group
Province: British Columbia
Provide a brief description of the Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative.
A time-consuming and costly regulatory process has been vastly simplified for BC’s largest privately owned energy utility. FortisBC distributes natural gas, electricity, propane, and other energy products to over 1.1 million customers in more than 135 communites across the province of British Columbia. FortisBC employs approximately 2,300 people and is a division of Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada. The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) is the government commission that regulates FortisBC to ensure that its business operations are in the public interest. BCUC regulations require FortisBC to go through a detailed information request process each time the company wishes to expand its operations or make a service delivery change. The BCUC permits external stakeholders to submit requests for information from FortisBC. FortisBC must respond to these requests and present a master document to the Commission within three weeks. Gathering information from stakeholders across the organization and ensuring the necessary individuals review all items is a gargantuan task. The amount of information — over 11,000 information requests were submitted to the company for its gas and electricity expansion plans in 2012 — makes for a very complex and time-consuming process. The Information Request System created by Habanero streamlines this time-consuming and costly process by compiling individual requests into a master document. Along the way, FortisBC employees can research, respond to, and approve the responses, while the system ensures the process is managed smoothly.
Describe what makes this Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative original or innovative.
The Information Request System harnesses a customized workflow engine to manage a large number of individual tasks with multiple participants, increasing accountability within the organization. Information requests are provided by the BC Utilities Commission in the form of a question about a number of topics including cost, environmental impact, and project timelines. When a request is sent to FortisBC, the regulatory affairs team uses a custom Word add-on to split the questions and sub-questions into different components. Each component is assigned to an employee and a workflow is triggered within the system. The solution supports the three different roles/audiences within a workflow: responders, revisers, and approvers. Each of these roles contributes to the completion of a request, and everyone can see the status of every request from the main dashboard of the Information Request System. An administrator may select the individuals that can respond to, revise, and approve content as well as supervise the creation of the master document at the end of the process. The system provides a dashboard where administrators can oversee the entire process and review the progress of individual responses. The dashboard is tailored based on an individual’s seniority and role, ensuring that every stakeholder sees data that is relevant and important. This has increased the level of accountability within FortisBC and helped to alert managers about the health of the entire process.
Describe the improvement this Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative made to the customer’s sales or revenues. What changed?
Provide evidence of measurable improvements in sales, revenues, cost reduction, etc.
FortisBC saves approximately $57,000 per month on information request-related tasks thanks to the Information Request System. Along with an additional $100,000 in annual labour savings, this adds up to a staggering $784,000 per year. These cost reductions have helped the organization improve their bottom line and better manage the financial implications that go along with an information request process.
Describe the improvement this Solution, Service Provided, or Initiative made to the customer’s efficiency. What changed?
Provide evidence of how customer efficiency was increased.
The Information Request System has saved FortisBC an estimated 60 per cent of the time resources previously needed to manage information requests. The IR system has digitized what was previously a manual process, allowing responders and approvers more time to thoroughly assess each request and ensuing response. Given the three-week time period and the volume of information necessary to consider during the information request process, the time saved by the IR system is a huge competitive advantage to FortisBC. The Information Request System has greatly reduced the amount of hours spent organizing and collecting the requests, allowing responders, revisers, and approvers to spend more time to engage with each inquiry. It takes an estimated 141,000 person hours to complete the process; the last process included 1,655 individual requests. Each request had to be read and researched by FortisBC representatives. The end result: more detailed reports submitted to the BCUC and a more efficient process for employees who are tasked with managing information requests.
How did this Solution, Service provided, or Initiative improve the customer’s ability to serve its internal and/or external clients?
Provide evidence of the improvement.
FortisBC has not missed a BCUC deadline since implementing the Information Request System. Staying within the three-week deadline has saved FortisBC from paying monetary fines as well as suffer other project-related penalties. Past penalties have included complete rejection of new energy resource projects, which negatively impacted the goals and objectives of the organization.
In what ways does this Solution or Service Provided go above and beyond industry norms and expectations?
The solution goes above-and-beyond industry norms by taking a task-oriented workflow solution and adding sophisticated collaboration capabilities to it. In addition, the IR system includes a custom Microsoft Word component, which enables the regulatory affairs team to break questions and sub-questions into individual components and import each component into the solution.
How does this solution further your customer’s green or environmentally friendly plans?
The FortisBC information request system greatly reduces the amount of paper documents circulated during the response process. Prior to the implementation of the solution, employees used tens-of-thousands of individual pieces of paper, many of which were copied multiple times. The Information Request System has significantly reduced the amount of resources consumed by FortisBC and contributes not only to the organization’s bottom line, but also to FortisBC’s environmental focus.